BRUSSELS - Ian Gibson, the former Ford executive who established Nissan's Sunderland, Eng. factory as the most efficient auto plant in Europe, has been named president of Nissan Europe.
Gibson, 52, is the first European to hold the top Nissan job in Europe. He has also been appointed to the board of Nissan Motor Co. in Japan.
Gibson replaces Norio Matsumura, 55, who has been promoted to executive vice president and board member of Nissan Motor in Japan.
Gibson says his rise is a reflection of Nissan Europe taking on a more important and mature role within global operations. Gibson joined Nissan in 1984 as director of purchasing and production at Nissan Motor Manufacturing Ltd. in the UK.
The appointment makes Gibson the top liaison manager between Nissan in Europe and Renault. Renault invested $5.4 billion to take a 36.8 percent stake in the Japanese maker in March.
Prior to joining Nissan, Gibson spent 16 years with Ford in Britain and Germany, in personnel, manufacturing, new product and general management.
Gibson became managing director of Nissan Motor Manufacturing in January 1987, and was responsible for setting up the Sunderland factory for production of the Bluebird. Sunderland now builds the Primera and the Micra - and the next Almera will also be made there. The plant has been cited as the most efficient in Europe in a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Gibson was named vice president of manufacturing for Nissan Europe in 1994. He took over the added job of managing director of Nissan Motor Iberica in 1997.